by Seize the Stars
His shoes slapped the office's polished floor. Slick (haphazard) hair, trendy (knock-off) tie, sleek (rumpled) suit and shoes; someone was getting some tonight.
Yeah, he thought. Some lasagna and ice cream in front of whatever show doomed to the Friday night death slot.
Brandon slipped into his own death slot: the cubicle in the corner. CC for short. Cock-sucking cunt in daily ranting.
He adjusted the pair of sunglasses hanging on his lamp. It was winter, but he liked to think his table greeted, "The name's cunt. Cock-sucking cunt." For the rest of the day, it would mutter, "You won't get away with this slacking!" Brandon would continue stringing paper clips into cuss words.
Said paper clips just jabbed his palm. Back in high school, Brandon coasted by with an organized mess, but here, with the jumbled papers and scattered office supplies, it was just a mess of organization.
His arm cleared enough of the stuff aside that he could lay his head down.
His zombified mind droned, "Coffee… Coffee…"
Sorry, mind, but Starbucks isn't cheap.
At least he wasn't an unpaid slave anymore. He should've celebrated the end of his internship by quitting, but pride didn't pay the bills.
Mama didn't raise no fool (she sometimes said she raised the fool). She was a true believer in low standards. 'They get met'. That applied to choice of condoms, too. Brandon was mama's "pequeño accidente".
"Good morning, Brandy." She poked him on the shoulder. "Yoo-hoo. Are you hungover?"
"Only when you're around," he said, shrugging off her hand. "Morning, Millie."
"The Valentine's Day scavenger hunt Sunday should pump you up."
"Oh, yeah. I love celebrating corporate America."
Millie pouted. "Think of the chocolates. Brighten up and join the Lonely Hearts Club. We've got T-shirts." Her nose wrinkled as she pulled on the hems of her homemade T-shirt. It showed the words 'Me, myself, and I' in compromising positions.
"I'd rather not jack off three times on a day of the faith."
"Why three when you can go for lucky number seven?"
Brandon flipped her off but kept his head down. "The florescent lights hurt me."
"Don't be so grouchy. You need to get l -"
"Coffee, Brandon?" a voice more chipper than an informercial actor asked.
When Brandon didn't say anything, Millie kicked him in the shin. "Good morning, Mr. Shaw."
Cue stereotypical hero response.
"Just call me Kevin, Millie."
Brandon swore his life was scripted. Unfortunately, unlike Mr. Obama's teleprompter and Mrs. Palin's palm, Brandon only got kicks from Millie. Millie coughed and then stabbed his sneaker with her stiletto.
He groaned into the nest of his arms and raised his head. "Sorry, boss. I stayed up late rechecking the accounts."
Brandon heard Millie scoff and mutter something like, 'More like OD'd on box sets of Buffy.'
Kevin's hazel eyes proudly appraised him. "Wear your sleepy scars like a man." He clapped Brandon on the back.
"Coffee's on me." He set the steaming cup on the counter and ambled to his office.
"What's that supposed to mean? I'm not usually a man? I'm gonna sic the HRC on him," Brandon said, rubbing the sore spot on his spine where Kevin practically bruised him.
"Mm. Kevin scored great legs from the genetic lottery," Millie mused. "I want his hair stylist."
"What's metrosexual supposed to be, anyway? And he says I'm not the man."
"Keep the punching purse - and the money in it - tucked away. The community donates millions to the Human Rights Campaign and all they come up with are fancy dinner parties with back-stabbing politicians and photo shoots with B-list celebrities." Millie's in her militant feminist stance: arm propped on her hip, weight balanced on her leg, and sardonic smile on her lips.
"And what're you doing, Ms. Activist and Ally?
"As much as you are, Mr. G of the LTBQ," she said.
Brandon grunted. "I'm a lover, not a fighter."
Millie laughed. "Only 'cause you're lazy. It takes a lot to love, you know. Besides, sometimes love is the most powerful weapon of all."
"In a Lifetime movie. Or Harry Potter."
Brandon pretended to shuffle around papers as he spotted Kevin parting his curtains. Kevin flashed a million-dollar grin. The guy could be poster boy for toothpaste.
Every time you don't floss, the tooth fairy puts other children's teeth in your mouth, Auntie Celia liked to say. Also, Santa kills an elf every time you're on the naughty list, and you turn into a werewolf if you jack off.
"He knows what you like," Mille said, sniffing the Starbucks coffee. "Be sure to get a cup of this on Valentine's. You know, to celebrate your love of corporate bullshit. Don't call the coffee kettle black, Brandy."
"Woodstock wants its wardrobe back, hippie," he said. He hooked a finger under her rainbow bracelet. As she pulled away, the beaded bracelet snapped against her wrist.
There was a reason short daggers were also called stilettos.
"Rise and shine, pumpkin!" Millie blew roughly into a bagpipe and did a little folk jig in her work clothes.
"I should keep a dream journal," Brandon said. He burrowed deeper into his hibernation den of splayed blankets and upturned sheets. He'd somehow managed to get Saturdays off, so in his book, Saturday signaled a sleep marathon into Sunday.
"I just got back from a lesson," Millie explained. Her bagpipe screamed like a banshee.
"Gerard Butler is not going to suddenly show up in your class in short-shorts, okay? Now shoo. Can't my subconscious hire a stripper or something? Can't you hire a stripper or something?"
"You won't need a stripper if I have anything to do with it. That's just a whole 'nother level of sleazy you don't need to get into."
Brandon rubbed away the visual drowsiness. "Ahh, the light. It makes my skin sparkle."
Millie giggled and dumped the bagpipe on a chair decorated with dirty laundry. "Good thing I didn't put house-broken on your EHarmony profile."
He jerked upright, back cracking. "The fuck?" Brandon began getting out of bed.
Millie's laugh chimed again. "Don't worry. Online, you're a kinky gym bunny who enjoys long walks on the beach." She paused in her merriment. "You wore jeans to sleep?"
"They were easy-fit," Brandon said. "And clean, too," he added.
"Keep this up and the only thing going into bed with you are those jeans and a pricey prostitute." Millie sat on the end of the bed, careful not to let her feet swing beneath the bed into one of Dante's levels of Hell.
"'Least you know what to get for my birthday now," Brandon said from inside the bathroom.
"Yeah, a trip to South America, where you'll meet a Brazilian and ride him into the sunset."
Brandon choked on his electric tooth brush.
"Is something wrong with your vibrator, Brandy?" Her contained laughter flushed Millie's face red. She fell back against the bed, using her purse as a pillow.
"A trip to Brazil," Brandon said. "Just in case you forgot where Brazilians come from." If Millie'd lived in Georgia the state during the invasion of Georgia the country, she'd have looked out the window for tanks. He washed his face and headed to the closet to look for a belt.
"Damn, they get the choice of the international gene buffet," Millie said. "You know, Kevin's part Brazilian." She stared at the ceiling. Only part of the house Brandon cared to personally renovate. It was painted blue and dappled with glow-in-the-dark stars.
"Fuck." Brandon clutched his foot. The belt buckle had found his foot.
"I thought you said you didn't like him 'cause he was perkier than frozen nipples?"
"What the hell are you talking about?" Brandon asked. He hobbled on a foot to pull on a sock. The clock neared eight thirty. "Shit. We gotta hurry."
"You gotta hurry. I woke up at five for a jog."
"Crazy Pagan witch." Brandon rummaged among the CDs on his desk until he found his keys.
"I'm vegan," Millie said. She threw a rubber duck at him. "You're such a packrat."
"Let's get in the car, woman."
"Why do we have a scavenger hunt for Valentine's Day, anyway? Isn't that Easter-ish?" Millie asked.
"The spirit of the game is meant to foster camaraderie and develop platonic love among co-workers," Brandon said.
"They only say platonic because Victoria tried suing after everything in the supply closet fell on her. A secretary fucking someone higher up in a janitor's storage is just tacky," Millie said. "How does that make sense, anyway? It's not a team-game."
"I was BS-ing it before. Hell if I know."
"Yellow light, Brandy."
He floored it, probably shocking the old little lady about to cross. In the rearview mirror, he saw her flip him off.
"I can see why she chose Patrick, though. I heard he lost a dare so someone actually used his abs as a washboard." Brandon thought Millie was suffering withdrawal symptoms from the lack of meat. Chewing on the gossip cob was like a nicotine patch for her.
"Why not Kevin?" he asked. Objectively speaking, Patrick was a douchebag.
"'Cause all girls want bad boys," she said. "And Patrick's in a band."
"That wolf tattoo he's got over his chest reeks of too much alcohol."
"Yeah, that is a shame. It covers such a nice chest," Millie said.
"I think you're the one that needs to get laid."
"As you all know, today's the annual Valentine's Day Scavenger Hunt. The object of the game, like always, is to have fun, and you all know the rules," the CEO said. "However, there's been a slight change this year. The company's decided the cash prizes will be donated to Mercy Corps for Haiti relief."
There went all motivation to even try, he thought, slumping in the high-backed leather chair. The other employees, comprised mostly of the married and middle-aged, likewise tuned out. From across the conference table, Millie kicked him. He mouthed "bitch." She rolled her eyes as the CEO went on about the new rewards.
"Is there something wrong with Patrick, Mrs. Gilligan, that you gave such a derisive expression?" the CEO asked, crossing his arms. His abnormally large nostrils flared.
"Of course not. There's nothing wrong with your son. I just had some dust in my eyes," she said, smiling at the smirking Patrick.
"As I was saying, this year the winner will receive a date with either Mr. Patrick Bryant, Mr. Kevin Shaw, Ms. Larissey or Ms. Amile. Of course, males may choose males, and females are welcome to do the same - choose females, that is. Our company would never discriminate on sexual preference. Ahem. Do any of you have questions? Would Mr. Bryant, Mr. Shaw, or the misses like to speak?"
Kevin's face was bleached of its usual cheeriness. He stared solidly ahead, focused on the clock.
Bryant was still focused on Millie. Victoria Larrisey glared at the both of them, and Anna Amile played with her hair.
Brandon craved coffee.
"Sir, are these dates the only prizes?" Brandon's cubicle neighbor, a stocky man named Robert, asked. Of course he would ask that. Robert already had two mistresses, one from each mid-life crisis. A man had to have his morals.
The CEO looked at Robert over the rim of his glasses. "It's either this donation, or downsizing. I urge you all to participate. The stockholders take this game very seriously." His face was dead serious. Brandon heard him mutter, "They like their annual good karma."
"Well, let the games begin!"
If there were enough working hours, Brandon swore an Olympics-style opening ceremony would've commemorated the start.
Everyone filtered outside the room. Brandon noticed Millie was doing her runway-slut walk, fully aware the beast was sinking his eyes into her. He mouthed "whore" at her.
Kevin chuckled. "All girls want bad boys."
"He doesn't even ride a motorcycle," Brandon said. "I know he has a teddy bear in his office."
Kevin uncrossed his legs and fiddled with his cuffs. "The teddy bear's not for hugging. It's one of his playing cards. The sympathy of spades. Then the teddy bear's eyes watch what unfolds."
"You're saying he films sex tapes with a teddy bear?" He had to rub Millie's face in this. "Wait, how do you know this?"
Kevin opened his mouth, but he was speechless for a moment. "You could say when Patrick inherits the company, he'd be called an equal-opportunity employer."
"Oh." See, Brandon's life was so scripted. "I think workplace incest should be outlawed."
"But his abs are like a dry cleaning service."
An awkward silence, like the one after you end a 'funny' story with 'you had to be there,' swallowed the crisp room with floor-to-ceiling windows. Except the funny story made his skin crawl and lose all respect for his department head.
Kevin broke the silence by exploding in laughter and grasping his stomach.
If anything, it was more awkward as Kevin wiped his eyes and shook. Without sound, it would've looked like he was crying. Brandon supposed happiness and sadness were two sides of the same coin. Quick, look at your glass of water, he thought. Yep, half-full; if only because he was thirsty and half-full sounded more fulfilling.
"Sorry. The work's been crippling lately - I can't find anything, it's like things aren't being filed - and I needed a laugh," Kevin said, dusting his cuffs and polishing his palms. "I wouldn't touch Patrick even if his father said he was signing the company over to me."
"I think he should," Brandon said. "Patrick's a douchebag."
"Patrick graduated from Harvard summa cum laude. He earned his right," Kevin said.
"Some cum with his latte? Where can I get an order of that?"
Kevin laughed again and squeezed Brandon's shoulder before leaving the room. "Remember to finish the accounts. Your coffee's on your desk."
"Oh, and good luck with the scavenger hunt."
A/N: Thanks for reading!
This'll be a short story. I haven't written a story in a while, so if there's anything wrong, please tell me.